A first-kiss wine…

From the department of “somehow, some way, I just keep on getting to drink funky-assed wines like every single day”…

The incipit of last night’s flight — the overture, the prologue — was a deceivingly humble bottle of 1997 Bourgogne blanc by Leroy. Friend and collector Michael Byington (environmental consultant by day) was in Austin on business and we met up at the happy hour at Trio (half-priced by the glass, appetizer menu, and free valet parking!). While I had brought a bottle to share as well, ubi major, minor cessat: his flight was so impressive that I tucked mine in my wine bag and just stuck around and enjoyed the incredible ride.

Not only did the Leroy reward us with nuanced dried fruit and chalky minerality, vibrant acidity and a slight unctuous mouthefeel that made it pair brilliantly with the steak tartare (ingeniously served with kren by chef Todd Duplechan)…

It also brought to mind a special moment in my love affair with Tracie P: nearly three years ago, when we were still in a long-distance romance, I brought a bottle of 1997 Leroy in my checked baggage to Austin. Then, the glow of our new love was wrapped around us tightly (and still is as Tracie P carries la piccola Parzen, as at least one friend on the Facebook called her), and every wine we tasted together was a new adventure. The 97 Leroy was perhaps the first “intellectual” bottle we shared and an unforgettable moment when our palates came together like lovers floating in a painting by Chagall. As soon as the wine touched my lips, I was transported to that moment and could see Tracie P before me, her blue eyes twinkling, her golden hair shining, and her lips inviting me to taste… Aroma and flavor have such remarkably potent mnemonic power… And this wine was a window onto one of the happiest and most thrilling moments of my life.

Michael had generously reached deep into his cellar before traveling down to Austin… Next, we opened a bottle of 1998 La Bernardine by Chapoutier. Crunchy red earth, chewy flavors of game and underbrush, ripe red fruit…

The 1990 Château Pavie was in fantastic shape… I couldn’t help but think of what Houston wine writer Dale Robertson had said to me the night before: to drink a wine too old can be a felony, but to drink too young is only a misdemeanor.

Bright, red and berry fruit, ethereal sand and pebbles, a powerful lightness and delicate muscularity. (Does anyone recognize the Petrarchan themes in this post?)

We made it an early night because I wanted to get home to Tracie P. Michael insisted that I take the last glass of the Leroy home. We tasted it together once I arrived… and we floated like lovers in a painting by Chagall…

Bacon cheeseburgers and Chambolle-Musigny for my birthday and Tracie P is showing!

In years past, my birthday has been marked with a bistecca alla fiorentina. (Last year’s Florentine-style porterhouse was particularly memorable because it coincided with James Suckling’s announcement that he was leaving Wine Spectator.)

But this year, with Baby P on the way and the implementation of new austerity measures, bacon cheeseburgers (another guilty pleasure of mine) seemed more idoneous.

I always use ground sirloin for my burgers, seasoned with salt, pepper, and Tabasco.

We sacrilegiously paired with a bottle of 2001 Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes by Leroy (!!!). I know what you’re thinking: austerity measures and a $300+ bottle of wine? It was given to me by a friend at a famous auction house after I helped her out by researching a lot of famous Tuscan wine for her.

I wrote about the wine this morning over at the Houston Press blog, where I’ve been having a lot of fun with the “Odd Pair” rubric that I author. It’s been great to get out of my comfort zone and write about a wider variety of wines (and even some wines I wouldn’t reach for normally).

I made the burgers and Tracie P made the mashed potatoes (as my birthday request) and the traditional blueberry pie (this year with lattice-top crust!). She’s really beginning to show!

Baby P and she are doing great and we’re looking forward to finding out Baby P’s sex in a few weeks. :)

Thanks, so much, for all the birthday wishes! They mean so much to me… What a special birthday this year and what an amazing year this has been and will be… We can’t tell you how much your support means to us…